VSO seeking an upgrade

Published 9:25 am Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Vicksburg Soccer Organization vice president Joey Windham speaks to the Vicksburg Kiwanis Club on Tuesday. (Alex Swatson)

Vicksburg Soccer Organization vice president Joey Windham speaks to the Vicksburg Kiwanis Club on Tuesday. (Alex Swatson)

Windham addresses group’s needs, challenges in speech to Kiwanis

The popularity of soccer is rapidly growing in America. With the recent success of the U.S. in the women’s World Cup and the television ratings to back up the claim, it’s starting to become one of the most played youth sports in the country.

Joey Windham, vice president of the Vicksburg Soccer Organization’s Division III program, would like to see some of that growth come to his group and Warren County.

Windham spoke to the Vicksburg Kiwanis Club on Tuesday afternoon and talked about some of the challenges the VSO faces and the need to improve and repair its facilities.

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“We had two or three armadillos tear up the fields,” Windham said with a laugh. “Our nets are falling down and the overall appearance of the park we can approve on.”

Windham said the VSO is small and fighting with other soccer organizations in Clinton and Madison for players. The budget, therefore, is small.

The VSO gets money from registration fees, and some from the county for lawn maintenance, electricity and other utilities, but there aren’t a lot of excess funds. The VSO pays a fee to the Mississippi Youth Soccer Association, which gives them insurance in case players suffer injuries. After expenses, the club is left with $5 per team to spend on maintenance, Windham said.

Windham spoke about VSO facilities and what can be done to improve soccer fields and equipment. Windham brought up the idea of fundraising with events like the golf ball drop and how the club can benefit.

“Our goals are outdated. We’d like to slowly purchase new goals. We have big heavy iron goals, and they’re tough to move. That’s our big challenge to buy, so things like this will help us do that,” Windham said.

Another fundraiser for the organization is its annual tournament. Windham said VSO holds two each year where other soccer organizations come in for a one-day event, which gives players a chance to play competitive soccer.

Windham hopes to expand this year’s tournaments.

“VSO is a great soccer organization and we want to keep it rolling. I think it’s a positive thing for Vicksburg,” he said.

The VSO’s fall season is about to begin. Registration started earlier this month and will continue through Aug. 23. The registration fees range from $60 to $90 depending on age, with a $5 “early bird” discount before July 31.

During his speech to Kiwanis, Windham said that in 1974 there were about 100 youth soccer players in Mississippi. The number has grown to more than 22,000, with several hundred of them in Warren County. The VSO has two seasons, one in fall and the other in spring.

“We have an average of about 500-600 players a year in VSO. That ranges from U-4 through U-12,” Windham said.